Steeling the Mind

Steeling the Mind: Combat Stress Reactions and Their Implications for Urban Warfare

Todd C. Helmus
Russell W. Glenn
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 174
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mg191a
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  • Book Info
    Steeling the Mind
    Book Description:

    Combat stress casualties are not necessarily higher in city operations than operations on other types of terrain. Commanders and NCOs need to have the skills to treat and prevent stress casualties and understand their implications for urban operations. The authors review the known precipitants of combat stress reaction, its battlefield treatment, and the preventive steps commanders can take to limit its extent and severity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4056-5
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Acronyms
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Combat is stressful. Beyond the ever-present fear of death, servicemen and women of all branches must deal with an array of evolving emotional and physical environments that have the potential to exact a high psychological price. The boredom that comes with awaiting the next operation mixes with fear of the dire events that may occur. Across the line of departure arrives fear of the bullet that bears one’s name, frustration of opportunities missed, joy that comes with victory, and immeasurable grief for those who have fallen. Carnage is ever present, and the fight to save the wounded can be even...

  10. CHAPTER TWO A Look Back: A Brief History of Combat Psychiatry
    (pp. 9-22)

    Events of our past not only remind us of our weaknesses and fallibilities but also serve to identify future directions. This is the case with the history of combat, or forward, psychiatry. Referring to psychiatry conducted at the “forward” lines, forward psychiatry seeks to return soldiers afflicted with stress reactions to their units and to limit the numbers of stress-related out-of-theater evacuations. Humans by their very nature are vulnerable. Many soldiers subjected to the horrors of battle experience a psychological breakdown. Military commanders should understand that their soldiers and marines will always be at risk. However, the risk is not...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Lessons of War: The Causations of Battle Fatigue
    (pp. 23-38)

    War has taught us much about the precipitants of acute stress reactions or battle fatigue. What follows is a summary of these lessons. They are ordered by individual, unit, and battlefield factors. These lessons are derived mostly from World War II and the Israeli wars, from which most CSR-related observations have been collected. The names and at times the symptomatology of CSR have changed over time. Despite such changes, the frequent agreement in findings from these conflicts suggests that the basic principles underlying breakdown is similar across generations. It is not complete; reappraisals of prior wars and future conflicts are...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Stress in the City: An Evaluation of the Risk of Combat Stress Reactions in Urban Warfare
    (pp. 39-68)

    On its face, the urban environment would seem to be a highly stressful combat venue. In a three-dimensional battle space, enemy forces can position themselves in subterranean structures, at ground level behind buildings and doorways, and in buildings on virtually any floor (including rooftops). Taking into account the myriad of structures present in most urban environments, there is an incalculable number of lines of sight and fields of fire. Friendly forces, which typically must ultimately advance on ground level, can be engaged from virtually any conceivable direction, even from the one whence they came.

    The urban battle is often an...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Reversing the Tide: Treatment Principles for Battle Fatigue
    (pp. 69-92)

    The stress-related risks of future military operations, including those on urban terrain, require that members of the U.S. military learn the knowledge and skills relevant to the treatment and prevention of stress casualties. Acute combat stress reactions can pose a significant burden to a tactical unit in terms of lost manpower. However, a number of steps are available to both combat and medical support units that can reverse the symptoms of battle fatigue and limit the permanent loss of afflicted soldiers and marines. It is especially important that commanders and NCOs familiarize themselves with these steps, as their initial actions...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Preventing the Fall: Suggested Steps Toward the Prevention of Stress Reaction
    (pp. 93-126)

    During highly intense combat operations, rates of stress casualties have been known to nearly equal the number of physical casualties in certain units.¹ Across an entire theater, rates approximating 25 percent of physical casualties are common. While these rates are high, evidence suggests that there is great variability in stress reaction rates between combat units. This is exemplified in the fact that airborne units during World War II reported stress reaction rates nearly a fifth of those reported by regular infantry divisions, despite experiencing combat of equal or greater intensity.²

    Data such as these demonstrate that the risk of stress...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 127-132)

    The manpower loss imposed by combat stress casualties creates a significant burden to combat and CSS units. In addition, it is certain that in the future the U.S. military will be committed to operations in urban environments. Such undertakings will encompass all the stressors found in other operating environments, often more intensely, and other stressors rarely confronted in less-populated terrain. The authors of this report have sought to evaluate the treatment and prevention of stress casualties and their implications for urban operations. This final chapter summarizes the study’s primary findings and reviews recommended actions.

    Soldiers and marines with operational experience...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 133-150)